Hot air rises.
The company planning a 130-turbine wind power facility in Nantucket Sound says the project will produce a relatively high level of energy on the region’s hottest days.
Hot air rising over land that produces strong sea breezes offshore is one reason for the higher production levels, according to a report released Monday by the project’s developer, Cape Wind Associates of Boston.
“It was a little bit surprising,” company spokesman Mark Rodgers said yesterday. “We thought it would correlate reasonably well, but until you collect the data, you don’t know.”
The project faces stiff opposition from groups who say the permitting process is flawed and the location is a danger to tourism and the environment.
Cape Wind matched information collected from a wind data tower with the 10 highest demand days listed on Independent System Operator of New England’s (ISO) Web site. ISO manages and transmits energy from Maine to Connecticut.
The top days all fell within the past two years and the peak demand came in the afternoon. The highest demand on record was last year on Aug. 2. The most recent was last Wednesday.
Average energy production during those times was 321 megawatts, according to Cape Wind’s report.
With average wind conditions, Cape Wind’s turbines are expected to produce 182 megawatts, according to the company’s data.
Critics are skeptical about Cape Wind’s numbers.
“I think the real issue is you can select days that help to illustrate top days that you produce power,” said Charles Vinick, president and CEO of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, Cape Wind’s staunchest opponent.
To fully understand how much energy Cape Wind would produce, figures for the entire year are necessary, Vinick said.
With Cape Wind’s data tower in place for several years, data should be available for analysis, he said.
The research tower data is proprietary and the days used for Cape Wind’s analysis were not chosen arbitrarily because the times selected reflect when New England’s electric system is under the greatest strain, Rodgers said.
The federal Minerals Management Service is expected to complete a draft environmental impact statement on Cape Wind’s turbines at the end of the summer.
By Patrick Cassidy
4 July 2007
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